Sunday, August 14, 2016

What does an Olympic gold medal mean for the Singapore Dream ?

I think an Olympic Gold medal deserves a quick write-up on this blog even though I should be slowing down for moots preparation.

First of all, like almost everyone here, I was pleasantly surprised at Schooling's Olympic Gold win. I never thought Singapore would actually see a Gold medal in Rio. That being said, I think this win raises a lot of questions about the nature of the Singapore Dream, and just how remote it has become for someone in the middle class to actually attain it.

If anything, as talented as Joseph is, luck played a major role in this event.
  • If Joseph had average parents, they would have persuaded him to take the 'A' level path and aimed towards a more regular income instead.  
  • If Joseph had been born in an average family with the median household income, even if they wanted to nurture his talent, they would not have been able to send him to a top sports school in the US.
  • If Joseph was not given deferment from NS, the gold may not have happened because of government interference. 
  • If Singapore could not get live broadcast rights, even if Joseph had gotten gold, most of us would not have been able to witness it live on TV. 
So many things would have gotten wrong but Singapore got lucky this time round.

We got lucky because Joseph had a great family, a successful dad who believes in him and the power of sport.

After this win, I asked myself whether I can be as noble and visionary as Colin Schooling, and sadly the answer is no.

I would, like many parents, choose a more stable career choice for my child in spite of their artistic or sport talents.

I would insist in the stable path because it is in their best interests to do so.

How many parents would admit to being more like me than Colin Schooling ?

Never forget that the reason why Singapore could see its first Olympic gold after 51 years of independence because Colin Schooling was astute and capable enough to afford to send his son to the US without taxpayer support.

If we are become successful financially within our generation, it may be possible that, for some of us, our children can pursue their talents without concern for financial stability.

This is our reality right now in Singapore.

For now let the burden of sports, entrepreneurship and the arts be borne by the rich.

This is not meant as a moral judgment on government policy.


  1. True!

    Parents are either Asset or Liability to their children

  2. fully agree.

    His father has the resources to send his son to the best suitable environment to develop the talent.Clearly, His father do not see singapore as the environment.